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Iffley Meadows

The sight of thousands of purple and white chequered snake's-head fritillaries at these ancient wet meadows will take your breath away. Snake's-head fritillaries usually begin flowering around mid-April, but the cold and wet weather of early spring made them a little later this year. Visit from now till late April/early May to see them at their best. The annual count, which took place this year on 17 April, recorded 69,266 plants.

Precious meadows

Download snakes head fritillary map

These wet meadows crossed by old river channels with willow-lined ditches have a rich diversity of wildlife typical of old, unspoilt meadow land. They were once a widespread feature of our river systems, but many have been lost to drainage and farming. In spring, the blooms of cuckooflower mark the start of a colourful sequence of wild flowers in the meadows. The orange-tip butterfly can be seen fluttering from flower to flower laying its eggs. Later, the yellow of buttercups and the reds and purples of great burnet and knapweed come to the fore.

Flourishing fritillaries

Each April, Iffley Meadows hosts a wonderful widlife spectacle where you can enjoy Oxfordshire's iconic flower, the snake's-head fritillary, in bloom in its natural surroundings. Before BBOWT took over management of the nature reserve in 1983, a mere 500 of these flowers could be found. As a result of BBOWT's careful management of the site and controlled grazing, numbers of fritillaries have shot up to over 89,000 - a huge success story.

Rich ditches

Several species of dragonfly and damselfly patrol the vegetated ditches during the summer. Warblers can be heard chattering in the reeds - Cetti's warbler can be distinguished by its loud, 'explosive' song.

Download the snake's-head fritillary map

Snake's head fritillary count at Iffley Meadows

Watch BBOWT's team perform a snake's head fritillary count at the Iffley Meadows nature reserve.

Things to do

  • See the snake's-head fritillaries in bloom in April
  • Help us manage this reserve by supporting us
  • Tweet your wildlife sightings to @BBOWT
  • Sign up to our e-newsletter

Your photographs of Iffley Meadows

Share your photographs of Iffley Meadows with us. Just add them to our BBOWT flickr group and tag them with 'Iffley Meadows'.

April 2013: Listen to Gavin Bennett, Assistant Reserves Ecology Officer, as he visits Iffley Meadows to see the snake's-head fritillaries.

Nearby nature reserves

CS Lewis Nature Reserve
3 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Lashford Lane Fen
4 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Sydlings Copse
4 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Reserve information

1.5 miles south of city centre
Map reference
SP 525 039
Great for...
spring flowers
Best time to visit
Mar - Aug
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
33.00 hectares
Walking information
Flat overall; rough underfoot in places, wet patches all year; kissing gates, gates, 30m 1 in 4 ramp from road to towpath
Take A4144 (Abingdon Road) from Oxford centre or ring road; turn at B4495 (Donnington Bridge Road); park in Meadow Lane on right after bridge; cross back over bridge, take ramp down to towpath, reserve is on right.
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Reserve manager
Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)
Tel: 01865 775476

Smartphone Safari

Every weekend on BBC Radio Berkshire and BBC Radio Oxford we broadcast a Smartphone Safari. Listen along as we explore some of our fantastic reserves and introduce you to the wildlife you can see.